Thursday, March 13, 2014

3/13/2014 Tennessee Civil War Notes

13, 1862 -  Report of Federal landings at Savannah

The Florence Gazette, of yesterday, says:

We learned yesterday that the Federals had landed a large force at Savannah, Tennessee. We suppose they are making preparations to get possession of the Memphis and Charleston railroad. They must never be allowed to get this great thoroughfare in their possession, for then we would indeed be crippled. The labor and untiring industry of too many faithful and energetic men have been expended upon this road, to bring it up to its present state of usefulness, to let it fall into the hands of our enemy, to be used against us. It must be protected. We, as a people, are able to protect and save it. If unavoidable, let them have our river, but we hope it is the united sentiment of our people that we will have our railroad.

Memphis Daily Appeal, March 13, 1862.



13, Mars in Memphis

Warlike.—The city has a very warlike appearance just now; lamp post committees and street corner lounges are much less numerously attended than they were a week ago, and in every quarter are seen squads of men drilling, while persons in uniform are hurrying to and fro as if they had important business upon their hands.

Memphis Daily Appeal, March 13, 1862.



13, 1863 - Affair on Harpeth Shoals

Destruction of fully laden US hospital ships (U. S. S. Trio, Parthenia) and one gunboat (Sidell) by Wheeler's cavalry at Harpeth Shoals on the Cumberland River.

Report of Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans, U. S. Army.

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND, Murfreesborough, Tenn., February 15, 1863.

GEN.: Supposing it well to furnish the Department evidence of the inhuman violations of the rules of civilized warfare by the rebel authorities, I inclose of the lists of our medical officers who were robbed of their private and personal property at the late battle, and statement of Chaplin Gaddis, who was on a hospital boat that was fired on and robbed at Harpeth Shoals by Wheeler's cavalry. I can multiply documentary evidence on these outrages and many others, fully revealing the barbarism of these rebel leaders, and will do so, if you think desirable.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. S. ROSECRANS, Maj.-Gen.

OR, Ser. I, .Vol. 20, pt. I, pp. 979-980.


Report of Brig. Gen. Robert B. Mitchell, U. S. Army.

HDQRS., Nashville, January 13, 1863.

MAJ.: The steamer Charter was burned last night about 8 o'clock, with her cargo. But two regiments have arrived from Gallatin yet; two locomotives have given out. Stanley went on the Hillsborough pike, as you directed. I think our force should have been sent nearer the train. Damn the railroad, say I!

ROBT. B. MITCHELL, Brig.-Gen., Cmdg.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 20, pt. I, p. 982.


Report of Gen. Braxton Bragg, C. S. Army,

TULLAHOMA, January 17, 1863.

Gen. [Joseph] Wheeler, with a portion of his cavalry brigade, after burning the railroad bridges in the enemy's rear, pushed for the Cumberland River, where he intercepted and captured four large transports; destroyed three, with all the supplies, and bonded one to carry off the 400 paroled prisoners. He was hotly pursued by a gunboat, which he attacked and captured, and destroyed her with her whole armament. I ask his promotion as a just reward to distinguished merit.


OR, Ser. I, .Vol. 20, pt. I, p. 982.


Excerpt from the report of Reverend Maxwell P. Gaddis, on board one of the ships at the time of the attack:

...I beg to state that I was one of the passengers aboard the steamer Hastings...on the 13th...the day she was fired into by a party of rebel guerrillas of General Wheeler's cavalry brigade, under command of Colonel [William B.] Wade. The Hastings had on board 212 wounded soldiers under charge of Surgeon Waterman, with instructions to report the same at Louisville. The Hastings left Nashville without any convoy. On nearing Harpeth Shoals we saw the burning hull of the steamer Charter, opposite a group of some half dozen of more small houses that had also been burned. A short distance below a fleet of six steamers were engaged in loading and unloading Government stores under the protection of the gun-boat Sidell commanded by Lieutenant [William] Van Dorn. Suspicious of some danger below I hailed Van Dorn and inquired as to who burned the boat and boat and houses. He replied that the guerrillas had burned the steamer and that he had retaliated by burning the houses. "Is there any danger below?" "No;" said he, "you can pass on safely. I have cleaned them out." The steamer Trio also laden with wounded was in advance of us some four or five miles. Believing all safe below we passed on. On reaching the head of Harpeth Shoals we saw the Trio lying to in a cove on the south bank of the Cumberland River, thirty five miles from Nashville, and thirty miles from Clarksville. Having heard the caption of the Trio say that he was nearly out of fuel I presumed that he was taking on wood. On a nearer approach to her I discovered a company of cavalry drawn up in a line on the bank just above the Trio. Two of the company took off their hats, waved them at us and ordered us to come to. I inquired "Why, and what do you want? We are loaded with wounded and have no time to stop." "Come to, or we will fire into you." And at that instant the whole line came to a ready. Being the only commissioned officer of board (not wounded) with the exception of Surgeon [Luther D.] Waterman I immediately assumed command ordered the captain of the Hastings to land. The boat in the meantime had moved past the designated landing point, and the guerrilla commander gave the order to fire and three volleys of musketry were fired all taking effect upon the upper and forward portion of the steamer. The volleys were followed by one discharge of cannon, the ball passing through the clerk's office on the starboard side and out on the opposite side of the cabin. I told them to cease firing as we were landing as rapidly as possible. On landing they boarded the steamer and ordered the men to leave the boat as they must burn her. In connection with Doctor Waterman I urged the claims of humanity upon them, and finally through a personal acquaintance with Captain [Spruel E.] Burford, General Wheeler's assistant adjutant general, we extracted from them a promise to spare the boat on condition of the captain entering into bonds that she should carry no more supplies for the Army of the United States. I pass by a description of the horrible scenes enacted by Wades' men. They plundered the boat, even to the knives, forks, spoons, &c. Rifled passengers' baggage; robbed wounded soldiers of their rations, and money from their pockets; took the officers' side arms, overcoats, hats, &c. I reasoned with their officer to no purpose, save Captain Burford, who was utterly unable to control the men. I then took on board the wounded of the Trio and her crew and asked permission to leave. This was granted and the colonel ordered his men off. On his leaving he noticed several bales of cotton on which our wounded men were lying; he instantly became furious and ordered us to remove the same ashore and burn it, a task almost impossible. Many of the men were badly wounded; night was coming on; no rations nor medicines and thirty miles distant from any military post. Seeing all this I asked for other terms. He then agreed if I would burn the cotton on my arrival at Louisville he would spare the boat and allow us to go on unmolested, and in the event of my failing to comply with the order I must return to the line of the Confederate States as a prisoner of war. These terms were harsh, but in view of the suffering men I instantly complied, brought to, her crew and passengers transferred to us, and preparation was them made to burn the Trio and Parthenia. In order to save the Hastings from coming in contact with the steamers...I again asked to leave. This they would not grant, but through the entreaties of Captain Burford, we were allowed to cross to the other side of the river under range of their cannon. We hardly landed when the gun-boat Sidell hove in sight. On her appearance the enemy mounted their horses and awaited her action. She came on under a full head of steam, carrying her when the engine had ceased within 150 yards of our boat, on the same side of the river. I hailed Van Dorn; told him to take the middle of the stream and not endanger the lives of the wounded during the engagement, for we had no other idea but that he would fight. To our utter astonishment he ignominiously surrendered, without firing a single shot. He then crossed her over to the steamers and ordered us across the river again. I took on what was left of the crew and soldiers and after waiting one hours and a half, according to their orders I started with the Hastings for Clarksville, reaching there at 8 p. m. and reporting to Colonel Bruce. He acted promptly and soon furnished us with supplies. I telegraphed the facts to General Rosecrans at Nashville.

Maxwell P. Gaddis, Chaplain Second Ohio

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 20, pt. I, pp. 980-981.


Loss of a Federal Gunboat, Corrupt U. S. Quartermaster Corps and an Inventory of gunboat cannon on the Cumberland River and Army Interference with Navy Affairs

Report of Acting Rear-Admiral Porter, U. S. Navy, responding to the Department's enquiry regarding the loss of the U. S. gunboat W. H. Sidell, and Corrupt U. S. Quartermaster Corps and an Inventory of gunboat cannon on the Cumberland River

No. 83.]

U. S. MISSISSIPPI SQUADRON, January 29, 1863.

SIR: In answer to your communication, asking information about a gunboat burned on the Cumberland River, I have the honor to state that the vessel mentioned did not belong to this squadron. She was called the Sidell, and was, I believe, an old ferryboat, with a field-piece on her.

The army undertakes sometimes to get up an impromptu navy, which generally ends by getting them into difficulty. There are five vessels of this squadron in the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers, which are detailed for convoy, and under the management of Lieu-tenant-Commander LeRoy Fitch, who has until the late affair, kept the rivers open, and convoyed all vessels safely through.

I shall direct that no army vessels be allowed to ascend these rivers without a convoy, and I have detailed the Lexington and two more light-draft gunboats for the upper fleet. This will make 40 guns on the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers. There are enough there now (20 guns) to take care of these rivers, but the recklessness of the army quartermasters is beyond anything I ever saw, and they employ persons who half the time are disloyal, and who throw these vessels purposely into the hands of the rebels. If the history of the army quartermasters' proceedings out here were published, the world would not believe that there could be so much want of intelligence in the country.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully,

DAVID D.PORTER, Acting Rear-Admiral, Commanding Mississippi Squadron.

Hon. GIDEON WELLES, Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.

NOR, Ser. I, Vol. 24, p. 19.


Lucy Virginia French's opinion of the affair

The late raid of Wheeler and Forrest on the Cumberland below Nashville is the talk now--cavalry capturing 5 transports and a gun boat is as good as Forrest's men taking a battery at Murfreesboro last summer with shot guns! Wheeler and Forrest burn[ed] the boats and stores and took 300 prisoners. The raids and feats of Stuart's cavalry in Va. are being thrown entirely in the shade by the daring deeds of the mounted men of the West. Forrest, Morgan, Wheeler and Van Dorn are beating the Virginian cavalry to death. Long may they wave!

War Journal of Lucy Virginia French, entry for January 25, 1863.


Report of killing negroes during the affair at Harpeth River, February 13, 1863

After the battle of Stone River, or Murfreesboro, a Federal Hospital boat when conveying the wounded, and bearing the customary flag indicating its object, was fired upon and boarded by the rebels, some fifteen negroes employed as servants on board the boat were killed. Others endeavoring to escape were shot in the water while clinging to the sides of the boat. The inhuman treatment was not the work of guerrillas, for   whose actions the rebel authorities might endeavor to excuse themselves, but was done by soldiers under the command of Colonel Wade. General Wheeler's Adjutant General was among the officers present. This Wheeler was promoted for the raid which the attack on the hospital boat and murder of negroes was the principal feature.

These facts were made known in a private letter from the Headquarters of the Fourteenth Army Corps, near Murfreesboro and published in the New York Evening Post, March 11, 1863.

Colonel Percy Howard, The Barbarities of the Rebels, p. 23.[1]



13, First Lieutenant Robert Cruikshank, 123rd New York Infantry Regiment, letter home to his wife Mary, camp routine on Sundays

Camp 123rd Regt. [sic], N. Y. S. V.

Elk River, Tenn.,

Mar. 13, 1864.

Dear Wife,-

This is Sabbath evening and all are quiet in Camp. I have had the day all to myself and have enjoyed the quiet. We do not have the quiet you do, as we have our regular work to attend to. I can get along with the regular work but when extra work is put onto us because we have a short time for rest, I do not like it.

Every Sabbath morning the men must dress in their best, black their shoes and with gun and accoutrements as clean and bright as they can be made, fall in line at nine o'clock for inspection. After this is over the sanitary condition of the Camp is looked after. If the Company street has not been properly swept and cleaned, it must be done over again. Every tent is inspected to see if there is anything that would cause disease or injure the health of the inmates. The above is regular work and I think it is right to look after the health of the men. Some of them would keep everything clean and in order and others would not. But if they know they must do it themselves before inspection or do it afterward under the direction of an officer or perhaps be sent to the guard house for punishment, or if in the habit or neglecting their work they are marched where all in Camp can see them, with a large stick of wood on their shoulders like a gun, it will not be neglected the second time. One man kept himself so filthy I made a detail take him to the creek and wash him and put clean clothes on him.

When he returned the men pretended they did not know him and when introduced by the men who had washed him, they all shook hands with him, congratulating him on his good appearance. He has not had to be washed the second time. There is no shirking here.

I am in very good health and my throat is well again.

With love to you and Ella,

R. Cruikshank.

Robert Cruikshank Letters.



13, Removal of Dead Horses; the Federal Army's battle for Public Health in Nashville

Provost Orders, No. 52

Office Provost Marshal

Nashville, Tenn., March 13, 1864

The practice of deposing the carcasses of dead horses and mules within the limits of the city, is in violation of all sanitary regulations, and is strictly prohibited.

All such dead animals will be hauled to a point on the river bank, below the Government corrals, and thrown into the river.

Any soldier, citizen, or Government employee leaving such dead carcass within the city limits, or within one half mile of the same, or any owner of such dead animal neglecting to have it hauled away, will be arrested and imprisoned.

By order of Brig. Gen R. S. Garner

John W. Horner, Lieut. Col and Pro. Mar.

Nashville Dispatch, March 19, 1864.



13, 1864 - "The Lord is now judging us for it." The Sin of Race Mixing and the Fortunes of the Confederacy. An entry from the Diary of Eliza Rhea Anderson Fain

Have enjoyed a precious privilege today of going to the house of God and hearing from our loved minister precious truths. The North has departed from the Bible, she has set it aside for a higher she found it confliction with her with her views on the subject of slavery. Their misguided zeal and sympathy for the poor African has entailed upon their country one of the most cruel, the most bloody, terrible wars that any people have ever known. While the South by her disregard for the commands of the high and holy one have provoked his wrath. The terrible sin of amalgamation has gone up before the great and holy one, until he has poured out upon us the fierceness of his wrath. This sin has for years been a great trouble to me. I have been so grieved at the thought of the white man enslaving his own flesh and blood-of changing the race of being whom God in his providence and for reasons known to himself seems to have set apart as servants for the descendants of Shem and Japheth.[2] We of the South have sinned in not speaking against this sin, as we should have done. The lord is now judging us for it.

Fain Dairy.



13, The case of the unwed widow and the recovery of an unfaithful husband in Memphis

A Boarding House Incident.- It is reported that among the ladies of Memphis who object to being considered the keepers of boarding houses, but for a liberal compensation take a few respectable ladies had gentlemen as members of families, is a widow with some pretensions to good looks and with very stylish notions. This attractive lady has as a member of her family, a handsome and carefully gotten up gentleman, who had resigned his commission from the army, and devoted himself to social enjoyment. It was rumored that he and the widow were about to marry, and everybody thought it was a very suitable match, except that the lady had been quite secesh, and the gentleman being from the northwest was supposed to be a little of an abolitionist. Thus matters stood, when on last Monday [13th] night the widow and her admirer, having paid a visit to the Vincent's for supper, returned home in the best of spirits. How long they sat in conversation, no one knows, but some time after midnight a good looking, but plainly dressed lady, who had come down the river on the steamer Belle Memphis, and had, it appears, been some time prospecting in the widow's premises, knocked at the widow's chamber. How she got in the house no one knows. Perhaps she bribed the servants; but, somehow, in she got and knocked at the widow's door until it was opened, when in she sprang, just as an exit was made from a window. The widow says it was a cat that jumped out. However this may be, the strange lady found, safe in his bed, her husband, for it turned out that she was the wife of the Northern gentleman whom the widow was supposed to marry. The next morning the husband and wife left Memphis without bidding adieu to the widow, who has very little to say about the matter.-Memphis Bulletin, 18th

New Orleans Times, March 28, 1865.


[1] As cited in: Colonel Percy Howard, The Barbarities of the Rebels, as shown in their Cruelty to the Federal Wounded and Prisoners; in their Outrages on Union Men; in the Murder of Negroes, and their Unmanly Conduct Throughout the Rebellion, (Providence, R.I.: Printed by the author, 1863.), p. 23

[2] Many Bible historians contend that the three offspring of Noah, Shem, Japheth and Ham, were responsible for formation of the races. Shem stayed in the Middle East, his descendants include the Hebrews, Persians and Assyrians. The descendants of Japheth wandered into Europe and parts of Central Asia. The Greeks, Romans, Spanish, Celts, Scythians and Medes were Japheth's descendants. The issue of Ham incorporated the Egyptians, Ethiopians, Canaanites, Phoenicians and Hittites. Ham's descendants appear to be the first to fill the earth, and were the early settlers of Africa, Asia, Australia, the South Pacific and the Americas. Genesis 9:18-28 (RVS)

James B. Jones, Jr.

Public Historian

Tennessee Historical Commission

2941 Lebanon Road

Nashville, TN  37214

(615)-532-1550  x115

(615)-532-1549  FAX


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